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Monday, October 13, 2014

Once Upon An Alphabet: Short Stories for all the LETTERS, written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. Harper, 2014. $26.99 ages 5 and up

"You can do all sorts
of things with jelly.
You can eat it.
You can throw it.
You can make stuff out of it.
That's what Jemima did.
She made her front door
out of jelly. That way, if she
ever left home without her
keys, she could just reach
in and grab them."
As is typical of Oliver Jeffers, this is not your conventional look at the 26 letters that make up our alphabet! He loves to surprise, and takes pleasure (I hope) in creating books that are remarkable in their nonconformity. This time he uses the letters of the alphabet to create short stories:

"If WORDS make up STORIES, and LETTERS make up WORDS, then  stories are made of letters. In this menagerie we have stories, made of words, made for all the LETTERS."

Got that? On we go then. In this brilliant collection we read tales that tell of wishes and dreams, of anger and angst, of accidents and danger. They are sure to make you smile as you recognize familiar faces from earlier books, and find delight in the recurring characters found within. I love that Edmund the astronaut is first up, and last as well; while we've been reading, he has found the spot-on solution to his acrophobia. 

Funny, well paced and exuding charm, this is a book that ups my admiration for the work that Oliver Jeffers is doing. His illustrations are recognizable, loose and full of humor. Black and white with bits of color and some collage, they perfectly match the tone of each of the stories and add to the pure delight of sharing them with anyone who will listen. I have read some pages over the phone to my daughter, ensuring that a copy has been added to her ever-growing wish list of books for her five-week-old daughter. Ah, the pleasures of the alphabet will not escape that wee sweet girl!

I do not YET have a favorite, but I hope you will indulge me in sharing a few with you!

"I i

There once lived an ingenious
inventor who invented many
ingenious things.

His latest invention allowed
him to observe iguanas in their
natural habitat...


Your imagination is not likely to take you to the island, that spot in the ocean where a periscope might be placed, or the covert operation that allows the inventor to spy on the island iguanas. Trust me, it's a hoot!


Q q

"This story is supposed
to be about a question.

But I can't find it anywhere.

Do you know where it is?"

Typical? Not in the least! Whimsical? You betcha! Intelligent and imaginative? Oh my, YES!
Thanks to Oliver, and to Oliver's Dad to whom the book is dedicated: Thanks for never making us get a real job. Love Oliver and Rory"                                                                 

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